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Please Don't Turn Away From Understanding the Psychopathic Monstrosity of Jimmy Savile
Turning away is how we get hypnotized. And there are so many lessons to be learned so we can all scream and shout and bite and kick the next time a monster of his stature comes anywhere near us.
The first time I heard of Jimmy Savile, I happened upon some semi-crackpot poorly put-together meme on Twitter showing the connection between BBC’s massive cover-up of the (largely unknown to Americans) beloved British entertainer and how it related to every other modern media conspiracy.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to know much more.
I have a limit for how much pedophilia I can read about in one day. And I’m just as culturally conditioned as the rest of the world in immediately associating vast outlandish accusations with—what was the word I used above?—crackpottery.
Which is exactly what monsters bank upon.
I say: No more.
All in all, Sir Jimmy Savile raped and assaulted more than 400 people over the course of his lifetime (and I would 10X that because most people do not want to deal with coming forward, or are not in a state to do so), and his victims included people ages 5 to 75, which he found at hospitals, churches, mental institutions and the BBC.
He was given free rein in hospitals housing vulnerable people because of his charity work and his celebrity status. He kept policemen and politicians as pets. A few assaults were even carried out on the BBC, as the world watched, such as when he inserted his fingers into a woman’s anus as she sat next to him on stage. You can hear her yelping. When a whistleblower finally found enough evidence to reveal to the BBC, the BBC nixed the documentary and said the sources were “just the women.”
Just the women. Think about that.
Of course, this topic is inherently revolting and off-putting.
No one wants to think about this disgusting old man, long since dead, and certainly no one wants to think about pedophilia and rape. There are so many unpleasant people and things in the world, and why on earth would one want to spend their time obsessing over a monster?
I’ll tell you why.
Because how we care for our most vulnerable in society—the children, the girls, the hospital patients, the broken, the discarded who were relentlessly predated upon by Savile—is the only true reflection of our worth as a society.
To turn a blind eye to Savile is to knowingly enable the next monster.
Teach Yourself the Tricks of the Master Trickster
There’s a good documentary, Faking It, on Savile that employs various experts who break down different evasion techniques the monster used throughout the years, and I will add some of my own below.
It is extremely helpful to understand sleight-of-hand and deception techniques when you are dealing with a master manipulator.
The Double Bluff: Again and again, Savile would say some reprehensible thing like that he was “feared in every girls’s school in the country” or even more revoltingly about his work in the hospital: when they look the other way, I can tend to the girls. It appears to be a joke but it is the truth. There is a certain duper’s delight in being able to tell on oneself and then dress it up as the audience not being able to take a joke if there is protestation. The entire reason that comedy lands is often because there is tension released, and one of the reasons that tension is released through the double bluff is because there is an almost unconscious understanding that the truth has actually just been revealed. Look for it. Recognize it. Don’t fall into trance.
Controlled Confession and False Vulnerability: Savile was a master of distraction. He planted several articles in the press that were what I would call Monstrosity Lite, or Acceptable Villainy. Like a Disney version of him—without all the horrific pedophilia and predating on the incapacitated—it was, brilliant in that there was no actual confession of a crime, but there was now an ability to say, “Look, what do you want? Of course there’s been rumors. I’ve told you now about my dark side, you’ve got the scalp you were asking for. What else do you want?”
This is a genius tactic that works not unlike the press bargaining tactic of “give me something better.” There is a long understood tradition in the press that if you can give journalists something better they will turn a blind eye. Now the actual scandal has been buried and they run with the press-release-ified version. There’s a reason the person offering it up does not seem to be squirming whatsoever. It’s because there is no danger. It’s a crisis-comms managed steak thrown over the fence to satiate the dog which might be barking its head off otherwise.
Politics of Respectability and the Armor of Powerful Friends: Could Savile have gotten away with everything he did if not for the blessing of Margaret Thatcher, the Royals, the pop music establishment and every other powerful person he strategically “collected” in his lifetime? Of course not.
He understood respectability as strategic armor. In fact, Savile himself relished getting the knighthood from Thatcher, recognizing it for the free pass that it was to continue his terror with even extra protection.
Call a Magician Out on His Tricks (or a Clown on His Props of Distraction): On one interview show, when Savile pulls out a banana in order to distract from the increasingly hard-line of questioning coming his way, there is incredible unspoken pressure on the interviewer to just not be a drag. Everyone there wants to laugh. Now he’s pulled out a banana! But sometimes being the bad guy, being the rain on the parade, can elicit a dropping of the mask like nothing else. A magician becomes livid when you call out his tricks, and a monster-clown’s eyes inadvertently reveal the danger that had heretofore been kept under wraps.
If only this very trick had been called out, we would have likely seen a greater rage than we already saw in the glimpses flashing below the surface. The interviewer might have asked:
“Why are you doing this absurd thing right now by pulling out a prop and then suddenly acting like you are a shrinking violet when I mention ‘sex’? You realize that everyone can see all of this for the attempted sleight-of-hand that it is, don’t you?”
If you ever want someone to reveal themselves, get them to reveal their rage.
You will see the monster very clearly then.
Don’t Ever Underestimate the Monster’s Ability to Understand How to Manipulate Human Nature
Savile says at one point in Netflix’s documentary that he understands how people operate, and my God, that he did.
There is one thing that every human wants but scarcely can bring themselves to recognize aloud, and that is something Savile knew how to fake extremely well: unflagging, unwavering confidence and authority.
Why in the world do you think doughy, uncertain, self-doubting, bearing the charisma of a smooshed pumpkin Prince Charles worshipped the ground Savile walked on? When someone doesn’t give a fuck, for those who are tortured by giving all the fucks, you want that—desperately. Whether it’s real or not.
Savile always had the answer. He always had the confidence. He never doubted himself. He never doubted anything. He described himself as a “machine,” in fact, because machines unlike humans can dominate anyone and anything, and as he liked to say, if he’s not let into heaven, well, he’ll simply break Saint Peter’s fingers.
Intimidated a bit? That’s how he wants it.
It doesn’t matter—it’s entirely irrelevant—whether or not Savile’s advice to the Royals was good or bad (though, because of his ability to puppeteer human behavior, it was likely roundly good) the point is that his outsized Zeus-like confidence with which he delivered everything that he did had the seductive firepower of trance.
Psychopaths understand the hypnotic effect of glib charm and domination unlike any other creature on this earth. Other’s authentic weakness, doubt and fear are to be used. When there is no emotion and no vulnerability and a complete stripping of conscience, anything is possible. You do not need to consider implications and ramifications of your behavior because this is not even on the table. A psychopath laughs at those who waste their time with such matters.
This is seduction incarnate. Savile understand that if you want people to always and instantly love you, you never display any self-doubt. That’s for other people.
It’s also, to use his words, “tricky” versus clever. This is all a trick and all a smokescreen and facade.
In my own life, I’ve had plenty of domineering men who have tried to cow and terrorize me with this attitude, and once you see it, you never unsee it.
You can call it out even. Try:
“I don’t trust people who have no sense of self-reflection or doubt—sorry. I’m glad this uber-macho costume you seem to be dressed up in works for you, but there is not a man on earth who knows everything and pretending to be invincible comes off as desperate, to be honest.”
Most people will never do this because it is far too awkward. Don’t be afraid of saying awkward things. Awkwardness is a spell-breaker.
People Can Always Be Bought and Compromised, But On the Bright Side: There Will Always Be People Who Cannot Be Bought and Compromised
Of the many heartbreaking and unbelievable moments that occur in Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, we see how he had his club of pet policemen, his nastygram-sending lawyerly attack dogs and most impenetrable of all: the Royals and the BBC to do his bidding.
I’ve read so many pieces now about how the Royals were seduced by him.
How? Are they babies? Are they the only people in this life who have zero sense of agency and ability to think critically? Come on. You can’t have it both ways.
Thankfully, there are forces for good. Otherwise, the documentary would never have been made, and his crimes would never been exposed. Don’t give up, but do look at the purchasability of people as a factor when trying to find justice.
Savile Used Our Hatred of Women and Girls to His Advantage
The premise to every punchline back in the extremely misogynistic olden days was that women and girls existed primarily to be fucked, to be used, to be discarded after their use and to satisfy the outsized appetites of powerful men.
In fact, to be chosen for such was, in its own way, one of the most direct paths with which you could achieve glory as a girl or as a woman.
I still encounter this attitude when I deal with certain older women who simply cannot see life as anything but a competition for who can get the best guy rather than seeking out such glory for themselves. It is a soul-curdling proposition to hear, but when I think about how much brainwashing I’ve willingly taken in in this regard, I have empathy for this mindset for older women who have had it the worst of all.
It was in fact not just a joke but a sort of “soft” embarrassment to care for women’s concerns.
One of the most beautiful souls in this Savile documentary might just be the gentle head of the pedophile unit in England whose anguish you can see upon his face as he discusses his battle to try to slay the monsters he saw firsthand.
Fighting crimes against children was considered by many people to be “women’s work,” he says, and not a real police matter.
The attitude seemed to be: When a woman or a girl caused a fuss if she complained about something that a powerful man did, it was so frustrating to anyone having to deal with such complaints because—obviously!—the woman or the little girl simply didn’t understand how the world works yet. If she did, she would understand her order in things. According to the sick logic then:
Powerful men have powerful appetites, and if that meant that a girl’s life was utterly destroyed because she was abused by a Man Who Mattered, well, that was the price that we collectively as a society had decided that we were willing to pay in order to continue to fuel our most precious resource of powerful men.
But true quality in a man does not come from such abuse. In fact, such abuse is nothing short of pathetic—and the opposite of true masculinity.
Psychopaths bank on your fear and terror of what “you might make them do.” That too is a smokescreen. Nothing, as we saw in what happened after Savile’s death, can stop the rolling collective tide of righteous anger at how blithely Savile ravaged innocents and vulnerable souls.
Don’t ever think you are alone in spotting something amiss.
You have nothing to lose in speaking out. It is the very nature of good.
Celebrity is Hypnotism, and the Less We Value It, the Better We All Are As a Society and As People
Savile’s show Jim’ll Fix It is the epitome of “high-concept,” meaning a concept that can be easily grasped and understood and has undeniable simplicity at its core. (In improv, high-concept is sometimes referred to as “finding the game,” meaning the one reliable mechanism that can be used again and again to produce content that delights, is understood and can be looked forward to. It’s not all over the place. It’s reliable, consistent and delivers something delightful each time because the “game” is just that strong and brilliant in its deceptive simplicity.)
Part of Savile’s understanding human nature was understanding: No one wants to actually deal with life, and Savile banked on our desire for a neat narrative over the messiness of reality.
At one point in the documentary, when the rumors are becoming too much, and they’re being raised again and again, he even reminds people by saying how he’s boring and how: My life is just like the TV show I was on, Jim’ll Fix It.
He is saying, “Go unconscious. Remember the fairytale that you liked? You will lose that if you look too closely at the truth.”
I’ve come to distrust high curation. It’s hypnosis, really. You know what reality is in your heart. You know that reality is not a TV program or a fairytale or an escapist cloud of constructed narrative. It can be a nice pillowy escape at times, but anyone pointing to it relentlessly, anyone who is actively trying to get you to go unconscious is to be suspected.
It’s so much easier to look outside of ourselves for validation, and boy does celebrity ever do it, especially for the young.
We are taught early on as TV babysits us and indoctrinates us that The Ultimate Ultimate is always to be seen or recognized by a celebrity or to be included in their plans.
What might happen? Will our world change? Will people see our pictures with celebrity and believe that we must be higher status too? Maybe it will afford us more access to power and to money and to recognition? Will everyone talk about us? Will our lives change? Will all the people who never thought we amounted to anything suddenly call and apologize and want to know what they can do to get back in our good graces?
Hypnotism works like this: Certain cues, like say “Once upon a time,” serve to quickly shut off our critical functions, the same way introducing someone as an “expert” does. I think that celebrity works hand in hand with a very early sense of our developing sense of self to make us incredibly submissive to its power. Were I a Savile victim I too would have thought:
“Oh, I could never go up against Savile. He’s a celebrity. He’s loved by the Pope and the Royals and Elvis and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and BBC so it is I who must be wrong. I will learn to punish myself to make these inner feelings of turmoil go away. I cannot stand up to a celebrity. It’s too close to God in this world, and I can’t stand up to God either. It’s too big, and I’m so little.”
But what is celebrity, really?
You are on TV. Who cares. It means nothing. We must stop the worship. All it does is fuel sickness.
And the reality is: No celebrity deserves worship, adoration or respect inherently. Just like any other person on this earth their actions have to demonstrate they are worthy of all of this.
Have you ever seen anything more glorious than a child who has been taught his or her own worth pushing back against what is being forced upon them?
I’ve noticed this a lot in the past decade where kids instinctively recoil against cameras and being used as props and have this sixth-sense where they understand that other people are trying to somehow leach off of their light.
Like I said, it’s glorious.
It can be taught, too. Try:
“No one has any right to you,” you can tell a child. “It doesn’t matter what someone promises you or someone buys you or someone offers you or even how badly someone scares you, there is nothing that anyone can ever do where they are owed anything by you. Be rude. I don’t care. You don’t have to bow down to celebrities or powerful people just because they expect you. You don’t exist for other people. And anyone who is trying to buy you or guilt you into a situation that makes you feel a little bit less good about yourself is a dangerous person, and I hope through my actions I have demonstrated to you that I am safe, and you can tell me, and I will do my best to protect you.”
Does this seem a bit silly and overwrought?
It’s absolutely not.
Kids don’t instinctively know a lot of these things.
Listening to the girl in the Savile documentary who felt that providing Monster Savile with oral sex seemed a fair exchange in order to appear on TV, all I could do was nod.
Of course it did. No one ever told her that she didn’t have to chip off bits of her soul in exchange for getting anything.
No one ever taught her how it would feel to rebuff the monster who counted on her submission.
Most troubled teens would have done exactly what she did.
TV seems the ultimate God, and for someone who’s been taught they are less-than their whole lives, you quickly learn that you will do what you must, by hook or by crook, to somehow get somewhere else from where you currently are.
But we must and we can teach girls alternate routes of escape out of bad situations, and the thrilling sense of strength that comes in warding off predators.
If you are thinking to yourself, Well I’m not vulnerable, that’s great.
Now, speak up and reach out and strengthen those who are.
They don’t have that luxury.
The Vulnerable Children and Adults and Patients Savile Abused Were Chosen in the Same Way Hunters Seek Out Wounded Prey
The many Jimmy Saviles who still currently exist and operate in this world are using the exact same tactics he did.
If someone is uncertain, if someone is self-hating, if someone is drugged and delirious and forlorn and believes there is no one who cares for them or what they have to say, predators can sniff out that weakness a mile a way.
If we do not actively teach women and girls the concept of immutable self-worth over collapsing inward toxic shame, a million more victims there will be.
Toxic shame is when someone believes not just that they may have done a bad thing, but that they in fact are bad. It is often taught and enforced by an abusive person in childhood, and once that brain worm is planted in someone, anyone can easily activate it by confirming a broken person’s suspicions that they are indeed bad and deserve whatever bad thing is happening to them.
It is in fact like stealing candy from a baby, and only a shell of a pathetic man would ever choose to poke at this wound.
When you interact with people who seem like they believe there is something wrong with them, if you can, try not to look the other way.
The only way for an abused person to escape the trap of toxic shame is for someone to reach in and pull the wool out from their eyes.
Show them that whatever bad things may have happened to them does not make them bad.
Demonstrate self-worth. Show them how you have learned your own. Teach them resilience and what a gift they offer to their world with their existence.
I will forever be haunted by the victim Sam Brown’s testimony in the Netflix doc.
At 11 years old, she was penetrated by the Monster Savile, and all she could do was wonder how everyone around her did not see—chose not to.
If you have a child, please teach them about monsters.
Teach them that no one ever has a right to their body, even people who profess to be powerful or important, even family and friends.
Teach them that they never have to consent or submit and that they are still growing up and it’s okay not to know everything but one thing they can always know is that their body is theirs and anyone who tries to infringe upon their boundaries needs to be shouted about from the rooftops.
It is never to be accepted. It is, to quote Savile, “a no go.”
Teach them that no friend will ever ask you to keep secrets that make you feel bad about yourself. Teach them that they are worth everything, and no one has a right to ever touch them. Ever.
It’s an uncomfortable conversation, but I know that you can do it in a way that will make your child feel even more loved and safe than before because that child will know that you are looking out for them, that you can see them, and that’s all anyone ever wants isn’t it?
To be seen.
To not be disappeared by a colluding world that seems to devalue the child and the vulnerable.
To fight against the monsters, with everything we have.